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Andy Richardson: Hoping sport triumphs can take our minds off the misery

So fuel’s going to cost £2 per litre. And a bag of chips is now £3.50. And if you want to heat your home, it’s £300 a month.

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu

Fear not. These prices are only temporary. By the time we get to autumn, the price of heating your home will have rocketed like the number of opposition votes in a confidence vote against Boris Gonesoon.

Strikes are due. The airports are in meltdown and even if you do manage to catch a flight out of the UK you might not be able to catch one back, which, given the above, may be no bad thing.

Those looking for silver linings have their work cut out. This time, even The Queen can’t help us – we won’t enjoy another jubilee for at least five years. No more trifle. No more community jazz bands. No more Ed Sheeran singing at the palace gates. Okay, maybe there are some silver linings.

Parliament is now run by a ‘coalition of chaos’ – that’s the 148 MPs who decided what the rest of the British public have known for a long time; that Big Dog is a Bad ‘Un. They have replaced the coalition of chaos that he’d previously installed – Liz Truss, Dominic Raab, Oliver Dowden, Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel – as the nation’s power brokers.

And so with faith in poli-tricks shot to a thousand pieces we turn to that old faithful, sport, to keep spirits high. Just as well, then, that England are losing to Hungary and drawing with Germany – though in a twist of irony not lost on sports fans, that latter result came about thanks to a penalty at the death. Harry Kane delivered for the nation what Boris Gonesoon has failed to do in two-and-half misguided years – levelling up.

We have Wimbledon on the horizon and after Emma Raducanu’s success at the 2021 US Open and her elevation to become BBC Sports Personality of the Year Winner, the nation can’t wait to see her in action. It’ll surprise no one, therefore, that she may miss the tournament after suffering a freak injury during a warm-up tournament in Nottingham.

Still, Raducanu’s misfortune doesn’t match that of Aldershot midfield James Rowe, who famously managed to sideline himself for several months after an accident involving a glass of fruit flavoured squash. Rather than drink it, Rowe dropped it on the floor and trod on it, depriving his team of his services.

He’s not the only one to get tangled up off the pitch. UFC fighter Bryce Mitchell had a horrendous experience involving a power tool and his nether regions. He’d stored a drill in his trouser pocket, as you do, while holding a board over his head. Sadly, the drill went off, damaging everything that had been near it. Like: ouch.

You’d have expected the Official Opposition to double down on its attacks on Mr Gonesoon – oh, and can anybody tell us: what does ‘double down’ actually mean? Isn’t it something to do with cards? It’s the nation’s most over-used and most pointless phrase.

Instead of attacking the PM, however, most think it should avoid further attacks. The polling shows Labour’s most likely to win if Gonesoon stays – but Starmer is unlikely to beat any other opponent. How odd, the nation has one leader so bad and another so uncharismatic that they cancel each other out.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, debt is spiralling. Forty per cent of people – that’s just under the number of Tory MPs who think their leader is a cronk – now buy now and pay later.

Shoppers are piling borrowing on top of borrowing as debt spirals. It’s no longer shiny electrical goods that are in their sights; it’s food. In the 18-34 age group, more than half of shoppers have buy-now-pay-later debts. It’s as though they learned nothing from their grandparents' attempts to buy a TV over the course of 12 years. We’re all back on tick.

Still, I’m old enough to remember a time when Britain felt great, when The Queen was celebrating a 70th Jubilee and when we could all open our newspapers each day without reading about dodgy politicians or injured sportspeople.

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